November 9, 2012 / Issue #29

Noanet Woodlands

Here’s the scene as I put the finishing touches on this article: It’s snowing outside, the fireplace is blazing and the entire day has felt generally frigid. This was especially evident while I was waiting outside for my son to come home on the school bus, completely annoyed with the bus driver for being 15 minutes late. The reality is that it wasn’t late at all, but the winter wind sure made it seem that way. In fact, as soon as I got back inside the house, I jumped on the internet and started looking up airfare prices to Aruba in a vain attempt to feel a little optimistic. It didn’t work.

What did work was what I did next. I looked at the weekend forecast and saw sunny skies and fifty degree weather coming our way. Suddenly, I was smiling with the realization that I could queue up plans for a weekend outdoor hike with the family.

I started thinking about where we should go. Remembering that leaves have fallen from the majority of trees, the idea of getting to a place where I could peek above those trees and see for miles had some appeal. And one of the best places for that in Metro Boston is Noanet Woodlands.


A Hike And A View At Noanet Woods In Dover, MA

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman


Start your trip at Noanet by parking by the Caryl Park athletic fields in Dover, MA. It’s a nice field and depending on weather, having a kite, frisbee, or soccer ball isn’t a bad idea. You know, its not a bad idea to just have a frisbee and kite in your car pretty much all the time. They don’t take up any space.

A map of Noanet Woodlands is posted at Caryl Park, but it never hurts to bring your own. From the fields, you’ll head out on Caryl Loop towards the mill site. That’s just under a mile over mostly flat terrain.

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman


Photo Credit: JJ Toothman

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman

When you reach the mill site, there’s a picnic table perched next to the dam. It’s the perfect place for a snack break or even a picnic lunch. You won’t find any place to buy food out here and any kind of snack shack would just ruin the landscape anyway. The point is, bring your own food. If you fill your thermos with soup (do people still do that?), this would be the place to enjoy it. If your thermos is full of hot cocoa, you might want to consider holding onto it until you reach the next stop. If you don’t have a thermos, keep reading this issue.

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman

Photo Credit: JJ Toothman

Once you’ve recharged, its time to head to the top of Noanet Peak. That thermos of hot cocoa may be the necessary motivation to help push your little kids to the top. The climb is about ¾ of a mile and while it’s not terribly steep, a little child might think otherwise. I’ve seen fathers pull strollers up the trail.

When you reach the top, there’s a great place to unwind while taking in a 360 degree view of greater Boston. Bust out the cocoa and marshmallows and enjoy.

For some parents, this may be the first hike where your little ones climb to the top of a (small) mountain on their own and get the reward of a fantastic view when they reach the summit. It’s something to think about ahead of time. You won’t want to miss the look of wonderment when it happens. Capturing this moment will take some precision timing, but if you can manage to pull it off, you’ll have a lifetime treasure. If you capture that one shining moment or any other images you are proud of you’re welcome to post them on our Facebook Page. We love to see that sort of thing!

Gear: The Humble Thermos

Sometimes an incentive helps get kids outdoors. When the weather turns cold, kids never refuse hot cocoa with marshmallows. The next time you head outside for a chilly day walk/hike/whatever consider whipping up a batch of hot cocoa before you leave the house. Not only can you use it as a lure to get them outside, if they are already excited to hike, you can surprise them with it in the woods. Pull that off and they may be retelling the ‘hot cocoa surprise story’ for years to come.

If you want hot chocolate in the woods you’ll either have to build a fire or bring a thermos with you. Any will do the trick, but here are a couple to consider:




Zojirushi Tuff Slim Zojirushi Tuff Slim Zojirushi Tuff SlimA thermos with a mug top is fun. There’s an inherent MacGyverness to the cap turning into a mug that is pleasing to everyone, especially kids.No mugs taking up space in your pack is a bonus and when you are all done, the messy mug screws tightly back in place so you don’t have a sticky mess in your pack when you get home.  Zojirushi makes this sleek, simple version, but there are plenty of others that look and behave just like it.
Stanley Wide Mouth Stanley Wide Mouth Stanley Classic
A classic. The wide-mouthed Stanley performs double duty. Coffee, cocoa, tea…any hot beverage will be at home in here.And with that wide mouth and extra large cup you can also fill it with chicken soup, chile or pretty much anything hot and viscous.  Mmmm…hot viscous meals…It’s just like 1950!
Thermos 61oz Thermos 61oz Thermos 61ozHey, these guys coined the name! Good for you, Thermos! They are the Kleenex of insulated beverage bottles!This huge 61oz bottle is cavernous enough to keep four adults in ice cold sangria for an entire day at the beach(It’s also great for cocoa with the kids).
Sea To Summit X-Cups Sea To Summit X-Cups Sea to Summit X-CupsThese mugs are collapsible, lightweight, easy to clean and compact. They are well suited for your camp kitchen as well as a day hike.
Snowpeak Kanpai Snowpeak Kanpai The Snowpeak KanpaiThis one will fit a 12oz can right inside…huh…Now what could that be used for…


Closing Thoughts:

  • Buy from a place like REI with a good exchange/return policy. If it doesn’t live up to your standards, you won’t be stuck.
  • Consider a small thermos for each kid and one larger one for the adults. We firmly believe when kids have ownership of some of their outdoor gear they feel more connected to their experiences. There’s that, and if you decide to drop a few shots of espresso or baileys (or both?) into the adult thermos, you won’t be breaking many ethical boundaries.
  • Did you ever think you could learn this much about thermai?